Learn more about domestic adoption, who may adopt, who may be adopted, what are the requirements for domestic adoption, the procedure, and cost considerations.
Adoption is a juridical act which creates between two persons a relationship similar to that which results from legitimate paternity and filiation. Domestic Adoption is an adoption proceeding which is not inter-country. An inter-country adoption is an adoption proceeding which involves the adoption of a Filipino child by foreign nationals and Filipino citizens who are permanently residing abroad.
Once adoption is granted, all legal ties between the biological parents and the adoptee shall cease and be vested upon the adopter/s. The adoptee shall be considered the legitimate child of the adopters and shall be entitled to all the rights and obligations of a legitimate child. In addition, the adopted child/children shall inherit the same or equal to that of the legitimate children’s share in the adopter’s estate should the latter die intestate. Under Philippine law, the effect of adoption is that “[t]he adoptee shall be considered the legitimate son/daughter of the adopter(s) for all intents and purposes and as such is entitled to all the rights and obligations provided by law to legitimate sons/daughters born to them without discrimination of any kind.”
Any Filipino citizen of legal age, in possession of full civil capacity and legal rights, of good moral character, has not been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude, who is emotionally and psychologically capable of caring for children, at least sixteen (16) years older than the adoptee, and who is in a position to support and care for his children in keeping with the means of the family, may adopt a child. Please note that the requirement of a 16-year difference between the age of the adopter and adoptee may be waived when the adopter is the biological parent of the adoptee or is the spouse of the adoptee’s parent.
On the other hand, the following persons may be adopted:
a. Any person below eighteen (18) years of age who has been administratively or judicially declared available for adoption;
b. The legitimate son/daughter of one spouse by the other spouse;
c. An illegitimate son/daughter by a qualified adopter to improve his/her status to that of legitimacy;
d. A person of legal age if, prior to the adoption, said person has been consistently considered and treated by the adopter(s) as his/her own child since minority;
e. A child whose adoption has been previously rescinded; or
f. A child whose biological or adoptive parent(s) has died.
B. Outline of Steps
Below is a general outline of the steps in adoption proceedings. Please note that in some instances, these steps may not be followed.
1. Filing of Petition. The petition is filed before the Office of the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court where the adoptee resides. Cases involving marriage and family matters will be raffled only to designated Family Courts. This will take about a week. After the raffle, the petition will be forwarded to the selected court.
2. Initial Court Order. The court where the case is raffled will issue an order finding the petition to be sufficient in form and substance. The order contains the following:
a. the registered name of the adoptee in the birth certificate and the names by which the adoptee has been known which shall be stated in the caption;
b. the purpose of the petition;
c. the complete name which the adoptee will use if the petition is granted;
d. the date and place of hearing and a directive that a copy thereof be published;
e. a directive to the social worker of the court, the social service office of the local government unit (“LGU”) or any child-placing or child-caring agency, or the Department of Social Welfare and Development to prepare and submit child and home study reports before the hearing if such reports had not been attached to the petition; and
f. a directive to the social worker of the court to conduct counseling sessions with the biological parents on the matter of adoption of the adoptee and submit her report before the date of hearing.
3. Publication. The Initial Court Order shall be published before the date of hearing at least once a week for three successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the province or city where the court is situated. The newspaper shall be selected by raffle under the supervision of the Executive Judge.
4. Child and Home Study Reports. Adoptive parents should make arrangements for case studies by a licensed social worker of the DSWD, the social service office of the LGU, or any child-placing or child-caring agency. The concerned social worker shall verify with the Civil Registry the real identity and registered name of the adoptee and establish that the child is legally available for adoption and the documents in support thereof are valid and authentic, that the adopter has sincere intentions and that the adoption shall inure to the best interests of the child. If after the conduct of the case studies, the social worker finds that there are grounds to deny the petition, the social worker shall make the proper recommendation to the court, furnishing a copy thereof to the petitioner.
5. Supervised Trial Custody. Before issuance of the decree of adoption, the court shall give the adopter trial custody of the adoptee for a period of at least six (6) months within which the parties are expected to adjust psychologically and emotionally to each other and establish a bonding relationship. The trial custody shall be monitored by the social worker of the court, the DSWD, or the social service of the LGU, or the child-placement or child-caring agency which submitted and prepared the case studies. During said period, temporary parental authority shall be vested in the adopter. The social worker shall submit to the court a report on the result of the trial custody within two weeks after its termination.
The court may, motu proprio or upon motion of any party, reduce the period or exempt the parties if it finds that the same shall be for the best interests of the adoptee, stating the reasons therefor.
6. Hearing. The date and place of hearing shall be set within six (6) months from the date of the issuance of the Court’s Initial Order. In case of application for change of name, the date set for hearing shall not be within four (4) months after the last publication of the notice nor within thirty (30) days prior to an election.
Upon satisfactory proof that the order of hearing has been published and jurisdictional requirements have been complied with, the court shall proceed to hear the petition. The petitioner and the adoptee must personally appear and the former must testify before the presiding judge of the court on the date set for hearing. The court shall verify from the social worker and determine whether the biological parent has been properly counseled against making hasty decisions caused by strain or anxiety to give up the child; ensure that all measures to strengthen the family have been exhausted; and ascertain if any prolonged stay of the child in his own home will be inimical to his welfare and interest.
7. Decree. If the supervised trial custody is satisfactory to the parties and the court is convinced from the trial custody report and the evidence adduced that the adoption shall redound to the best interests of the adoptee, a decree of adoption shall be issued which shall take effect as of the date the original petition was filed even if the petitioners die before its issuance.
The decree shall:
a. State the name by which the child is to be known and registered;
i. the Clerk of Court to issue to the adopter a certificate of finality upon expiration of the 15-day reglementary period within which to appeal;
ii. the adopter to submit a certified true copy of the decree of adoption and the certificate of finality to the Civil Registrar where the child was originally registered within thirty (30) days from receipt of the certificate of finality. In case of change of name, the decree shall be submitted to the Civil Registrar where the court issuing the same is situated.
iii. the Civil Registrar of the place where the adoptee was registered:
• to annotate on the adoptee’s original certificate of birth the decree of adoption within thirty (30) days from receipt of the certificate of finality;
• to issue a certificate of birth which shall not bear any notation that it is a new or amended certificate and which shall show, among others, the following: registry number, date of registration, name of child, sex, date of birth, place of birth, name and citizenship of adoptive mother and father, and the date and place of their marriage, when applicable;
• to seal the original certificate of birth in the civil registry records which can be opened only upon order of the court which issued the decree of adoption; and
• to submit to the court issuing the decree of adoption proof of compliance with all the foregoing within thirty days from receipt of the decree.
Adoption proceedings may be finished within 10 months to 1 year depending on various factors like the availability of the court, the social worker, witnesses and documentary evidence, and also the place where the petition will be filed.
C. Requirements and Costs
Below is a list of some of the requirements before filing a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage:
• Birth, baptismal or foundling certificate, as the case may be, and school records showing the name, age and residence of the adoptee;
• Affidavit of consent of the following:
o The adoptee, if ten (10) years of age or over;
o The biological parents of the child, if known, or the legal guardian, or the child-placement agency, child-caring agency, or the proper government instrumentality which has legal custody of the child;
o The legitimate and adopted children of the adopter and of the adoptee, if any, who are ten (10) years of age or over;
o The illegitimate children of the adopter living with him who are ten (10) years of age or over; and
o The spouse, if any, of the adopter or adoptee.
• Child study report on the adoptee and his biological parents;
• If the petitioner is an alien, certification by his diplomatic or consular office or any appropriate government agency that he has the legal capacity to adopt in his country and that his government allows the adoptee to enter his country as his own adopted child unless exempted under Section 4(2);
• Home study report on the adopters. If the adopter is an alien or residing abroad but qualified to adopt, the home study report by a foreign adoption agency duly accredited by the Inter-Country Adoption Board; and
• Decree of annulment, nullity or legal separation of the adopter as well as that of the biological parents of the adoptee, if any.
The major cost components of adoption proceedings include the following:
• Filing Fee (Estimated PhP3,000.00): The filing fees for a petition for adoption, where the petitioner is a Filipino citizen is PhP2,000.00. In addition, Php1,000 should be deposited with the court for the Sheriffs’ Trust Fund to defray actual travel expenses of the sheriff, process server or other court-authorized persons in the service of summons, subpoena and other court processes. There is also a payment for the Legal Research Fund which is 1% of the total filing fee.
• Legal Fees (Acceptance Fee, Pleading Fees, Appearance Fees, and Out-of-Pocket Expenses)
• Case studies (These fees are minimal only since the social worker will be assigned by the DWSD)
• Publication Cost (PhP9,000-20,000 each)
• Attendance to pre-adoption fora or seminars (These fees are minimal since these are conducted by the DSWD): Adoptive Parents may be required to attend a seminar or fora at the DSWD to help them assess their motivation for the adoption.
• Other Administrative Costs (Varies): There are several affidavits and supporting documents required by the court. The process of completing all the requirements for documentation may entail costs.